Perry Makes Ten; North Carolina Shaping up as Major Battleground

June 8, 2015 — Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) announced for the presidency last week, becoming the tenth official GOP candidate; more are coming.

Perry will run nationally for the second time. As you will remember, his last campaign ended with him making a major debate gaffe when he couldn’t recall the federal agencies that he was promising to eliminate. In addressing how this campaign will overcome the mistake of the past, Perry former chief of staff and 2012 communications director Ray Sullivan said that “ … people realize that what the governor did in the high-profile debate, stumble, everyone has done as some point in their lives. I think he’s already earned a second look, particularly in Iowa.”

Arguably, had he not self-destructed during the early 2012 stages, Perry may well have defeated Mitt Romney and the rest of the field to become the party nominee. His record as the longest-serving governor in Texas history is strong, and plays well to a Republican primary electorate. He was polling at, or near, the top of the 2012 polls at the time of his well-publicized debate mishap.

The big question for Perry goes beyond whether or not he can repair his reputation from mis-speaking. In the 2012 race, the then-governor raised over $20 million for his campaign effort and considerably more was invested in various super PACs that were supporting him. But, at that time he was the sitting governor of the nation’s second largest state. Now, as a former state chief executive who failed badly in his first presidential run, it is believed his fundraising apparatus will generate far less this time around.

Perry is planning to emphasize his strong economic record when he presided over Texas, his strong border security position, and his military service. He still has pending charges against him for abusing his power in relation to denying state funding to a Democratic District Attorney’s office. Travis County DA Rosemary Lehmberg (D) was convicted of drunk driving and, on film, resisted arrest. So far, Perry’s legal moves to dismiss the case have been unsuccessful.

On the heels of the Perry announcement, former Florida governor and presidential son and brother Jeb Bush (R) appears on his way to ending some speculation as to whether or not he would officially enter the presidential campaign. Bush had always been careful not to commit to forming an official campaign committee. He now says he will “make his political plans known” on June 15.

NC Numbers: Good News for Bush

Public Policy Polling (May 28-31; 561 registered North Carolina voters — 277 Republican primary voters, 274 Democratic primary voters) tested the presidential contest in their monthly North Carolina poll and provides ex-Florida Gov. Jeb Bush the best news he’s had arguably since the campaign began.

According to this small sample snap shot, Bush leads the nine tested candidates with 19 percent preference. Gov. Scott Walker, and senators Marco Rubio and Rand Paul are all tied for second with 12 percent. Former Arkansas governor and 2012 presidential candidate Mike Huckabee is close behind at 10 percent.

For the Democrats, Hillary Clinton again commands a strong lead, in the low 60s (62 percent) over her closest opponent, Sen. Bernie Sanders, who records only 14 percent support.

In general election match-ups in this critically important state, particularly for Republicans, Clinton leads most of the GOP field in margins between one and seven points. She breaks 50 percent against no one. Gov. Walker and Sen. Paul poll even with the former Secretary of State.

We can expect North Carolina to once again become a major battleground state.

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